We’ve had our in-house restaurant Penny & Bill since the opening of Helio GT30 on Greveturegatan,. There’s been a lot of exciting things happening both inside and outside of the kitchen during spring, among other things there’s a new kitchen manager named Sergio Piñones. Sergio has done a lot of big changes in the menu and he’s opened up a friendly dialogue with our members. The restaurant now works as an alternative workplace where everyone’s welcome to both sit and work or take meetings while enjoying their breakfast, coffee break, lunch or after work. We sat down for lunch together with Sergio in order to find out more about him as well as the changes at Penny & Bill.
Hello Sergio! Aside from Penny & Bill, which is your favorite restaurant in Stockholm?
Esperia! It’s a Greek restaurant in the south of Stockholm. They’ve been there for 30 years and the food there is just as amazing now as it was the first time I ate there. It’s not any more difficult than that. There are few places that hold the same standard and quality on their food during a longer time period.
In the world?
I’m not much for eating at Michelin restaurants and the like while traveling. I’ve been to a lot of them, for example Noma in Copenhagen, but that kind of food doesn’t interest me very much. I have worked with fine dining and it can be fun, it’s just not the kind of food that I like to eat. I love street food! Wherever I go, my goal is to find the best street food available. The best kebab I ever had was in Amsterdam and trust me; I have eaten a lot of kebabs in my days. I want to eat food that is available and at places where I can eat often – food with a soul.
Where were you before you came to Helio GT30?
I worked at Hilma, but I didn’t do a lot of cooking there, but rather handled the administrative side of things. Places that I’ve cooked at are Akkurat, PA & Co, Bistro Süd, Pane vino and Eriks Basar.
How did you start your journey in the culinary industry?
I did four different programs in high school and dropped out when I couldn’t find my thing. After that I took a one-year culinary course at Komvux and felt right at home. At that point I had tried everything; nature, children and leisure, commerce and the automotive technological program. Suddenly I felt right at home among kitchen equipment, stress and yelling. I found a sense of calm in it.
We have noticed some big changes since you took over the role of kitchen manager at Penny & Bill. What has been the best thing about creating a new menu, staff and concept?
Everything has been so much fun! First and foremost, the kitchen at Penny’s is the best I have ever been in, I wanted to jump from joy when I saw it! I really like it. It’s just as much fun today as it was the first day I worked there. The nice thing is that I get so much good and constructive feedback. It really warms my heart.
You have a Chilean heritage, is that something we’re going to see more of in the new bistro menu?
A little bit. The Health-plate has a little bit of inspiration from Chile. Aside from that, I’ve created new event menus together with the staff at Helio. Street food menus with inspiration from Latin America. This means that I get to cook some of the food that I grew up with, which I think is really nice.
Some recipes from your mother that have been revived?
Yes! The coriander salsa and avocado cream that I serve is my mother’s recipe.
We have been told that when you’re not in the kitchen, you like to compete in boxing. Tell us more!
Haha almost, wrestling! I have been doing it for six years, but I have been training different martial arts since I was a teenager. Right now, it’s Brazilian Jujutsu. It’s like wrestling, but you wear pajamas.
How often do you train and compete?
During a dream week, I will train about ten times. During a bad week maybe three to four times. And I compete at least four times per year.
Competition-wise, how’s it going?
Good! Recently I won a silver medal at the biggest Nordic competition Nordic Open.
Congratulations! What do you do to make sure that you remain responsive to the members in the building when it comes to the menu and dishes?
When it comes to Helio, I always talk to our guests and happily accept all feedback. I wish I had more time to walk around and talk to everyone, and that is something I always have as an ambition to do. Partly to socialize, but also in order to satisfy everyone’s stomach.
We often hear you singing and jazzing inside the kitchen while you’re prepping, which is your favorite song for chopping onions?
“Is this love” by Bob Marley.
Which is your favorite dish on the menu right now?
It must be our Ceasar salad. I’ve been told that it’s the best Ceasar in Stockholm!
If you as a guest or member have any request or favorite foods that you would love to see on the menu. What should you do?
Then you just come and find me. The other day a guest came and asked me if I could make The Swedish dish Shomaker’s Box, since she wanted to treat her father to some. I promised to put it on the menu for the following week. Simple as that!
Finally, Sergio, which dish will you never serve at Penny & Bill?
Blood sausage. That is probably the worst thing I have cooked and served, so that is something you will never see on the menu.
Thank you, Sergio! If you want to meet, talk to or taste Sergio’s food, you can do so by visiting Penny & Bill. As mentioned above, you are welcome to talk to Sergio in person if you have any menu requests or need advice on songs to chop onions to. Feel free to follow @penny_and_bill and @wearehelio on Instagram.